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Assistant Professor / Frank Borden and Barbara Lasater Hanes Fellow

PhD English, Cornell University

MA English, University of Toronto

BA English, University of Ottawa


My research examines intersections between law and literature, with interests in immigration, global migration, and human rights, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. I teach classes on law and literature, global literature, human rights, and theories and history of the novel.

I have written several books and articles in the fields of human rights theory and eighteenth-century literary studies, including Before Borders: A Legal and Literary History of Naturalization, (JHUP, 2022), and, as co-author, The Right to Have Rights (Verso Books, 2018). I am also co-editor of the forthcoming The Routledge Companion to the Novel. I am also a frequent contributor to venues such as The NationGuardianDissent, Boston ReviewLapham’s QuarterlyHumanityLos Angeles Review of Books, and Public Books.

I am currently working on two projects: Asylum Nation: Refugees and the Founding of America, which traces the colonial-era history of legal concepts such as “asylum” in British common law and early American legal and literary history, and a book project on the history and social and political function of unidentified bodily remains.

Before coming to UNC, I held a visiting assistant professorship at Harvard University and an assistant professorship at Willamette University. From 2018-2019, I was the Frieda L. Miller fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and, from 2020-2021, an ACLS Burkhardt Fellow at UCLA. At Harvard, I received a Commendation of Extraordinary Teachingfrom the Dean of Undergraduate Education.


Sample Publications:

  • Before Borders: A Legal and Literary of Naturalization (Johns Hopkins UP, 2022)
  • The Right to Have Rights (co-authored with Alastair Hunt, Lida Maxwell, and Samuel Moyn) (Verso Books, 2018; 2020 paperback edition)
  • The Routledge Companion to the Novel (co-editor with Matthew Hart, Ignacio Sanchez, and Sheri-Marie Harrison) (forthcoming)
  • “Daniel Defoe and Colonialism,” Daniel Defoe in Context, eds George Justice and Albert Rivers (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2023), 284-87).
  • “Resettling Refugee History,” American Literary History, 34.3 (Fall 2022), 893–911.
  • “The Right to Leave,” Lapham’s Quarterly (April 2022)
  • “Vaccine Nationalism,” with Srinivas Murthy, Dissent, 29: 1 (Winter, 2022): 65-79.
  • “Health Nativism,” with Srinivas Murthy, Dissent (April 2020)
  • “Rethinking Birthright,” Boston Review (July 2019)
  • “The Eyes of Other People:” Adam Smith’s Triangular Sympathy and the Sentimental Novel,” ELH 85.3 (Fall 2018), 669-690.
  • “The Poetics of the Passport in A Sentimental Journey,” Sterne, Tristram, Yorick: Tercentenary Essays on Laurence Sterne, eds. Melvyn New and Judith Hawley (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2015), 201-218.
  • “Democracy, Give or Take?” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 5.1 (Fall 2014), 93-110.

Teaching Awards

  • Commendation of Extraordinary Teaching, Harvard University, Spring 2020


  • Arts and Humanities Research Grant, UNC Chapel Hill, 2023-2024
  • Junior Faculty Research Award, UNC Chapel Hill, 2020-2022
  • Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, UCLA, 2019-2020
  • Frieda L. Miller Fellow, Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University 2018-2019
  • Faculty Research Award, Willamette University, Spring 2019
  • Clark Memorial Library Fellowship, UCLA, July 2018
  • Center for Religion, Law and Democracy Curriculum Grant, 2015-2016
  • Atkinson Research Grant, 2015, 2017
  • Center for Religion, Law and Democracy Major Research Grant, 2014-2015
  • Mellon LARC Grant, 2013-2014
  • Teagle Instructor Grant, 2013-2014
  • Atkinson Research Grant, 2013
  • Bret de Bary Mellon Foundation Writing Grant, Human Rights and Cosmopolitanism (co-authored with Diane Rubenstein), 2009

Courses Taught:

  • ENGL 089 First Year Seminar: Human Rights
  • ENGL 385 Law and Literature
  • ENGL 831 Theory and History of the Novel
  • CMPL 890 The Public Humanities